Busy Bodies Unite!

Last week I crossed the threshold from youth to old biddydom and became – the local busy body.

I managed to be both embarrassing and very uncool, something my youth obsessed generation strive very hard not to be.

Seeing a neighbour’s girl out in a suuped up car with boys I didn’t recognise, I did what every self- respecting busy body would do – I came home and checked she’d been dropped off (she had) and later rang her Mum.

I hope in a few years’ time if her Mum sees my girl running round town in a flash car with blokes – she’ll be doing the same for me.

You hope they’ll be responsible – you hope you’ve taught them right but sometimes it’s really handy to have a bit of back up. Most kids are lucky if they can remember to take the right books to school on a given day, can they really make the right decisions after three alcopops (sounds like lollipop – where’s the harm?) and whatever legal party pills (everyone likes a party don’t they?) are on offer. Because the truth is that my generation has no real problem with the idea of drugs; we were the inheritors of the idea that recreation and drugs were intrinsically linked.

If I had been truly representative in my worry about the possible combinations of ‘young girl/ boys/ fast cars and possible alcohol or drug use’, I would have thrown the girl a pack of condoms and a crash helmet, given the boys an espresso and said ‘you go girl!’ Mistakenly, I would have assumed that experimentation was just part of the rich fabric of adolescence in New Zealand and that pushing your physical and mental boundaries is an intrinsic rite of initiation into adulthood.

The addled view that taking drugs was just another way of pushing limits for those who couldn't afford Outward Bound, is lunacy in the face of new drugs that make Attila the Hun look like Barbie on a picnic.

A point amply demonstrated by a Ministry of Health brochure, reprinted in May last year entitled ‘Dance Party Goers – What U Should Know’. It contains such gems as: “The crystal form of methamphetamine, known as ice or pure, is very potent. Most people find that speed makes their mouth dry and their jaw tense (chewing gum helps).”Or this; “If someone gets spooked (while taking LSD), try to take their mind off what is frightening them. It is important to remind them that it is just the drug and it will end soon.”

Obviously written by someone who hasn’t spent an afternoon coaxing their flatmate off the motorway overpass because he thinks the daisies are gnawing his flesh.

There is a handy checklist for party goers; ‘tickets, money, condoms and lube, water and identification in case, it thoughtfully adds (“people need to know who you are if something goes wrong.”) Like – you die. For example. Why don’t we just pop a pre-printed toe-tag into their wallets before they leave home?

I used this brochure to get my students to read ‘between the lines’. Their task was to choose a part of the text and write down what they’d inferred from it in 5 words or less. One wrote ‘Stay Healthy While Taking Drugs!’ Stunning in its oxymoronic elegance. After reading; ‘If you choose to take drugs, only take a small amount and wait for it take effect before taking the rest. Illegal drugs do not have a consistent quality, so each tablet may have a different effect,’ one student wrote; “Choose reputable dealers. Check Quality.”

While most students would see through this as PC lunacy, kids are always going to pick up on the background hum of what is inferred from a culture that is inherently permissive towards drug use. Last Thursday Mike Sabin and his anti drug company Methcon had me sobering up to the horrors of P and my own ignorance and attitudes. P, as he put it, is in a whole other league than Cheech, Chong and Cheezles. What he showed us was nothing short of a 21st Century equivalent of a reintroduction of chemically induced slavery.

Busy bodies Unite. It’s time to stick our noses in. Where are the TV ad campaigns? Who’s dealing in our neighbourhood? Where are our kids?

Related Links
MethCon Group drug education

National Drug Policy Youth Party Safe Campaign
NZ national drug policy

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